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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  October 29, 2010 4:00pm-6:00pm EST

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and we heard the president say, emphatically, it was indeed explosive device or there were materials of explosive device nature. >> that has gone from being any talk of a dry run to obviously an attempt. >> yeah. the real deal. wolf blitzer takes it from here. michael holmes, thanks so much. good to be here with you. i'm fredricka whitfield in atlanta. wolf blitzer up next in "the situation room." we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. we're following the breaking news. president obama calling it a terrorist threat from the united states. two suspicious devices apparently do, in fact, contain explosives. those packages discovered overseas were addressed to jewish places of worship in chicago. cargo plains and trucks in
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several u.s. cities are being invested and aviation security is being ramped up right now. the president warning that al qaeda and yemen is planning attacks against the united states right now. to our white house core spot dent ed henry. we had this briefing from the senior advisor on homeland security. john brennan. >> he gave us new information going through what they know and what they don't know. he hinted for the first time that the u.s. had intelligence that tipped them off to the fact that there were packages potentially with explosives on these planes. he said, quote, when ever you pull a string, there's a reason you pull that string. and we had a reason to pull it. he wouldn't go further detail. clearly hinting this was intelligence. this is not just a random check. that's why they wind after it. asked if it was a dry run for a future terror attack or not. and specifically, interestingly,
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john brennan said, usually with a dry run, there would not be explosives in these packages. in this case, as the president himself noted, there were explosives in the packages leading u.s. officials to think maybe it feels not a dry run, maybe it was an actual terror attempt. but john brennan careful to know there's still very early in the investigation. a lot of information we do not know yet. but the president himself came to the briefing room to explain what we do know to the american people. >> last night, and earlier today, our intelligence and law enforcement professionals working with our friends and allies identified two suspicious packages bound for the united states. specifically two places of jewish worship in chicago. those packages were locate in dubai and in the united kingdom. an evaluation of the packages has determined they do contain
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explosive material. i was alerted to this threat last night by my top security advisor tom brennan. all our law enforcement and agencies to protect whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack. >> the president was direct in saying as well, the president noted that the u.s. will spare no expense, as he put it, in figuring out investigating who is the source of this terror threat. the president noted, as you just heard, that the packages started in yemen. and he went on to say that we know that al qaeda, the arabian peninsula, has been operatoring out of yes, ma'am menl. they believe they were tied, for example, to the underwear bombing there on christmas day last year. the attempted terror attack over detroit. bottom line, though, is the president said one thing we do know is that the packages are headed to jewish organizations of chicago.
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interesting to note that the president himself was headed tomorrow to chicago and philadelphia, which is another part of the threat today. but white house spokesman robert gibbs said no plans to cancel those travels. the president planning to go to charlottesville, virginia tonight. philadelphia, connecticut, as well as illinois tomorrow, wolf. >> the president was first briefed about this threat last night at 10:30 p.m. eastern time. that's when the homeland security and counterterrorism team really went to action. >> they did. john brennan, as you noted, the president's principal, counterterrorism official here inside the white house, convened a conference called at 1:00 a.m. eastern time. a short time after that briefing of the president to kwort nad the cia, the national counterterrorist center, etc., get all of them in place. that seems to be the good news here that the u.s. counter terror officials appears to have pounced on this in a way snuffed
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out whatever threat was out there however, he did get one question briefly about reports that there may be 15 more packages out there in the system that the u.s. is searching for. john brennan would not confirm nor deny that. this is still very, very earlyi. could be more threats. >> stand by. all of this playing out after authorities intercepted the two packages, one in the united kingdom and one in the united arab emrates. let's bring in jeanne meserve. she's working this story. what else do we know, jeanne? >> they found the two devices and they're working very hard to determine if think there are any more. also, as ed mentioned, they're trying to figure out what the devices are, what are they intended to do. this is what john brennan had to say. >> i'm concerned since there were explosive materials in it, a traditional dry run is not
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something you would use with explosive materials. that said, i don't know yet what the intent is at this point. there are a lot of different scenarios that people have speculated about. and we're trying to wrestle it to the ground by doing the good forensic analysis by taking a look at the standpoint and trying to piece together what they might know in the past and give aus sense of what's going be used. >> pictures of the device found in the united kingdom. it appears to be a toner cartridge that's been tampered with a in some way. you can see the other piece of it. something attached to the toner cartridge. so this is the nuts and bolts of what they're looking at, trying to determine what it is. and trying to determine if there are more. john brennan didn't want to hear it on camera. we do believe there are packages
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en route from yemen they want to take a look at. they do not have any intelligence, we're told, but they pose a threat. because of where they originate, they want to take a look. you saw planes, cargo planes pulled aside of philadelphia and newark. trying to track down some of the packages. i'm told by sources they did find some of them and determined those they found did not pose any threat. we may see additional activity that looks like this. additional planes like the one that came from from the uae, the one they wanted to take aside from jfk after they escorted it in with fighter jets. they thought one of the packages was onboard. they wanted to take a closer look. we may see some more of that as the days progress as they try to determine what exactly the dimensions of what they're dealing with are. back to you. >> is it your understanding that thoseages intercept in
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the uk and in dubai were addressed specifically to synagogues in chicago? in other words, somebody went to fedex or ups in yemen and said i want to ship these two -- these two boxes to the synagogues, the jewish houses of worship in chicago? >> i don't know what was said at the point of shipping, but we did hear from the white house that, yes, they were addressed to synagogues in chicago. and that helped them find them. the intelligence the united states got from an ally intercepted two packages headed to yemen to chicago, they were able to track them down. this is not a luck of screening, but they had intelligence on what to look for. as you know, all of the shipping companies do extensive tracking of all of the packages going through the system. and that undoutdedly made it a little more easy to find this what could have been otherwise a needle in a hay stack, wolf.
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>> thanks very much. don't go too far away either. going to be checking back with you. jeanne and ed and all of our reporters. they're working their sources. jeanne said a sign of how serious they're taking this scare, fighter jets escorted the flight from dubai to jfk. it had a package onboard. it landed safely a little while ago. let's bring in fran townsend and paul crookshank with the center of law and security at nyu school of law. were they plastic explosives, highly dangerous explosives? do we know? >> we don't know the quantity. john brennan was asked that very
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specific question. he declined to answer it. partly because of testing and partly because of the signature that the bombs are put together and what materials are used. that's the crucial part of the investigation to do as the president directed him, that is to trace this bohmbach to the origination. >> what could the packages have done. say they weren't detected. there wasn't a tip from an ally. presumably, they reach the synagogue in chicago. then what? >> we don't know how viable they were at this point. had they caused harm there in the synagogues, it would be popular amongst al qaeda's core base anti-semitic. targeting the synagogues could be deliberate, wolf. >> a timing device could have gone off once they knew the packages had arrived.
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>> if indeed it was viable. >> you say an ally tipped off the united states, i don't know who the ally is. i assume it's yemen. the government of yemen has been working closely with the united states on these issues, is that right? >> well, yemen has been an inconsistent ally. there was an attack there against a convoy. i would presume it would come against the yemenis. it's got to be an ally that has good insight to al qaeda and the arabian peninsula and the intelligence had to be pretty specific. >> rathere fulsive in the praise of the president and the cooperation that the u.s. is getting from yemen. >> they're getting a better cooperation. we saw the french warned by the saudis to their security.
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be interesting to find out if it's the same source for information here. >> stand by. we're not going to go anywhere. we're all over this story. we're watching this from all angles. we're monitoring all of the international developments. and we're going be going to chicago as well where the suspicious packages were death tinned -- were supposed to arrive. we'll get reaction from capitol hill. we'll be speaking with members of the intelligence and homeland security committees. they've been briefed on what's going on. this is a serious development with the president of the united states says a credible terrorist threat has been thwarted, but maybe there are other packages still in the works. and the two packages that were discovered, the president says, apparently contained explosive material. our coverage will continue after this.
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we're continuing to cover breaking news. a dramatic development today. the president of the united states confirming a while ago there has been a credible terrorist threat aimed at the united states. two packages found in -- one in britain, one in dubai. the president says contain explosive material. may be other packages as well. bring in richard quest who covers aviation for us in london.
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this whole situation involving cargo planes one that's very, very dangerous. we know the commercial aircraft. we've lost him for a moment. fran, tell me about the threat to cargo planes. >> cargo has been a concern to congress and the security officials. there's cargo in the belly of passenger planes. up until february of 2009, only 50% of that had to be screened. as of september of this year, there's 100%. there's a difference between screening and inspection. screen canning be done in many ways, physical or target intelligence. that's not inspection where you're touching and looking at each package. it represents a vulnerability on a purely cargo plane such as the ones targeted here, or cargo in the belly of the passenger
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plane. >> go ahead and weigh in what has been done and what needs to be done to make them xpleetly secure. >> i don't think it's possible in many ways to make them completely secure. it's taken them an enormous amount of time to get the agreement you're talking about. the tsa admits that for inbound cargo on passenger planes, it's not possible to get the 100% limit anytime soon. put this in to perspective, wolf, every day, ups transports between 3 1/2 and 4 million packages around the world. federal express does the same. talking about millions of packages on thousands of planes, hundreds of planes on most days.
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now, to have a screening, it all basically relies on the information on the package. the so-called known customer. the point at which the package is handed over to the company. we're looking that the point in yemen. because it seems that that point in yemen was the weak point in the whole process. >> presumably, they're going, richard, to the point in yemen where the two boxes were delivered to ups, to fedex. they're trying to find out who delivered these boxes to this -- to this point of origin in yemen. >> look, anybody who's tried to send something internationally by fedex or ups legitimately besides a piece of paper or a document, if you try to send anything physical, you have to
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send an air bill number. a document how much it's worth. it's not easy. if you take someone like yemen, as paul was saying a moment ago, a country infinitely less secure at the point of delivery, then you start to have problems. what will be interesting is as we get more information, firstly, how many of these packages came via ups or cour r couriers? why some on ups planes and why some via dubai on the emirates flight. there will be different bits of information that we will learn in the days to come about the mechanisms of these packages which went from yemen via east midlands or wherever to the united states. >> i want you to stand by, richard, and -- we're going be coming back to you as well. we're only getting started -- the information is only beginning to trickle in.
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we're learning more by the minute what's happened. our own brooke baldwin is now on the scene. two synagogues in chicago apparently targeted by this group in yemen. hey, did you ever finish last month's invoices? sadly, no. oh. but i did pick up your dry cleaning and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices... which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes. you know what? i'm going to tidy up your side of the office. i can't hear you because i'm also making you a smoothie.
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you're looking at a cargo plane. they're going through all of the cargo inside. this out of an abundance of precaution. they want to make sure there's nothing suspicious earlier as you know by now.
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they did find two suspicious packages, one in dubai, one in england, both contained, according to the president, explosive material that was removed -- explosive material boxes heading for chicago. our own brooke baldwin is now in chicago. she's outside one of the largest synagogues in chicago. brooke, we know that according to the president, two jewish houses of worship were the targets of this attack that was in the works apparently thwarted right now. what are law enforcement authorities telling you? >> we hear from the fbi, the jewish federation in chicago, wolf. both reiterating, not just two synagogues but to all religious institutions, be on high alert particularly if you see any kind of suspicious package that may be coming from overseas. that's what we got from the fbi specifically, specifically the middle east. but i want to let you know, one of the biggest questions we have
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is which two synagogues here in chicago were targeted. we don't know that. i've been sitting outside of the city's biggest synagogue. sitting in front of the temple. and just on background here, wolf, two observations. one -- all of this talk about the cargo plane and ups just all of this big brown ups truck pull up to temple shalom. the driver got out. it appeared to me, you know, no panic, business as usual. got out and delivered the packages. all while everyone is being very much on high alert given to what we've been reporting all day long. families were coming out of the synagogue. i asked a man holding two young boys. we know the information now. we know the packages contained the explosive materials, does it frighten you? he said, yes, very concerned. looking at the little boys.
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wolf asking if his news would reflect his worship here. keep in mind, the services begin at 6:15 tonight. coming up on the sabbath. he took a deep breath. he said he hopes the news doesn't affect them. he doesn't want this to affect his daily rights. sitting here, wolf, and hopefully we'll talk to some of the people heading to the services again. 6:15 local time. the bottom line is all these people are on high alert. services are continuing as planned. >> stay in close touch with you, wolf, thank you very much. you're getting new information from source where is you are, nick. what you learning? >> one of the interesting things we went from british resources here a little while ago is that they say the person responsible for putting the packages or sending the packages on the aircraft was the same person --
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the person known as being connected with terrorism or sort of being in terrorist circles, if you will. which when we listen to what mr. brent unanimous was saying, when he was asked if there was a suspect he said, no, there wasn't a suspect. a little discontinuity on what we're hearing from british intelligence sources and officials. the kinks will be worked out the. the british are thinking that a person was identified who sent the packages. that person is known to be connected with terrorists. wolf? >> stand by. more information coming in from the report earles. we have a worldwide reach as you know here on cnn. stand by, our continuing coverage will resume after this. what's this option? that's new.
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we're following the breaking
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news. two suspicious packages were intercepted. one in dubai, one in the united kingdom. both contained, accordliing to president obama, explosive materials. both destined to go to synagogues in chicago. getting reports now to ups saying this. because security is the utmost concern, ups is immediately suspending service out of yemen. ups is cooperating with authorities monitoring reports of suspicious packages onboard. authorities are getting two aircraft in philadelphia and one in newark. fedex was suspending shipment of packages out of yemen as a result of what has gone on. our dana bash is here. she's watching this story. senior congressional correspondent. i know i members of congress, members of the intelligence committees, are being briefed by u.s. officials about what's
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going on. >> i got off the phone with susan collins, republican of maine. she just got briefed by officials at homeland security. she said this is a very, very serious attempt in her information to use commercial cargo transportation to ignite explosives in the united states. she said that she has learned that there is a ground halt on all cargo packages, all packages in general originating from yemen. and tsa inspectors have gone from germany to yemen to work there. she says she believes based on what she was told that this is clearly another attempt by al ki k -- al qaeda in the arabian peninsula that has a foothold in yemen. she asked if it was a bigger plot. the intelligence officials said they don't know the answer to that. they're working very hard to test the explosives to figure out what kind and what kind of damage they would have done here in the united states. >> that doesn't necessarily take
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all that long. the fact that the president of the united states was going to be in chicago, is planning on being in chicago in these final days before the midterm elections on tuesday, susan collins and other sources think there could be any connection at all to this? >> she said she does not think so. susan collins said she has no information to suggest this has nothing to do with president obama. it is, instead, specifically what you all have been talking about. we've been reporting that the destinations were the synagogues in chicago, jewish centers. that is the significance of where these were going. one other interesting thing we were saying, this is not something based on hard intelligence. everything she's been learning and studying and being briefed on in the last weeks and months, she believe this is is definitely the influence of the american born cleric. there's no question in her mind this has his friptd fingerprin
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over it. it's aimed at holds in the united states. as the ranking republican, she's worry about the holes in the system. she wants to screen more intensely cargo. if they didn't have this credible really good source, it could have gotten through the cracks and gotten here and done some damage. >> fortunately it's been thwarted we hope completely. could be other packages out there that they're looking for. dana, stand by. peter bergen is our terrorism expert here at cnn. peter, the al qaeda and the arabian peninsula means al qaeda in yemen right now. tell us about the organization. one of the principal figures, the cleric an war al-alacki. >> the statement he made at the white house briefing, you know, this is the most active arm of al qaeda right now he's concerned with other than al qaeda central.
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in the last year and a half, wolf, al qaeda and the arabian peninsula is being linked to two successful attacks in the united states and two failed ones. the successful attacks were the attack on a recruiting station in little rock, arkansas where a muslim convert converted to an african-american shot and killed a soldier at a military recruiting station. then we have major nadal hassan who killed 13 soldiers in ft. hood, texas in contact with al-lacki, as you mentioned, the american cleric. and the attempt to blow up the northwest flight over detroit. now you have this. and so even al qaeda central hasn't had quite this record. so the focus on yemen is intend. a group of 700 people. one of the leaders of the group, by the way, is guantanamo and it an interesting wrinkle. somebody who went to saudi arabia was rehabilitated and took up arms when he got to
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yemen. you have a group that not only has an american cleric but somebody who went through the american prison system, kind of understands the united states a little bit. and this attack speaks for itself. i think, wolf, the most important here is multiple american counterterrorism officials tell me the bombmaker involve in the 253 attempt to detroit and also an attempt to kill the leading counterterrorism official in saudi arabia, this is skilled. he made two bombs out of plastic explosives and they're concerned this guy is still out there. my hunch is that whoever built this bomb may well be the same bombmaker, this quite skilled bombmaker who's capable of putting explosives on planes that aren't detected by metal detectors. there are many questions about this device, the device we just found in britain and in dubai.
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however, this bombmaker in al qaeda and the arabian peninsula is a concern to the two counterintelligence officials. there's no name of who this individual is. he's out there trying to put bombs on planes the assessment of multiple counterterrorism officials i've spoken to. >> since they found the two devices that did -- that had not detonat detonated, they would do a complete forensic examination. it won't be difficult to see whether the fingerprints, literal fingerprints or other trademark capabilities link these two bombs to the other bombs you're discussing? >> yeah. the first thing i would be looking for is the bomb made of ptem. it's a highly unusual plastic explosive that's been a signature of al qaeda. it was use in the richard reid shoe bomb incident. very unusual explosive to be use in a terrorist attack. there are only three attempts
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that i'm aware of of why this explosive is used. it would be an immediate indicator looking back to the bombmaker involve in the previous two plots that i mentioned, wolf. >> peter bergen is going to stay with us as well. thanks very much. take another quick break. we're watching the breaking news right now. congressman peter king of new york is the ranking member of the house homeland security committee. we'll speak with him. he's just been briefed by top u.s. officials. he's standing by. ♪
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following breaking news here in "the situation room." two suspicious packages found in dubai. one in the east midland's airport in the united kingdom. both according to president obama contained explosive material. they are looking at pictures now of the two devices. and they were supposed to go to two jewish houses of worship in chicago. we're following the breaking news. joining us now is new york congressman peter king. he's the ranking member of the house homeland security committee, member of the permanent select committee on intelligence as well. i know you've been briefed, congressman. how worried should the american public be right now about what has just happened? >> actually, the american people can be reassured as far as we
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know. so i would say up until now it's work. we can be reassured by that. i assume that's who's behind us coming out of yemen is out. they are intent on getting us, if you will. they are 24/7. in many way, they have supplanted -- alaki has supplanted bin laden as the major terror actor in the middle east right now. the american people -- a wakeup call that we should never let our guard down. but the reassuring part is that the system did work. >> do we know for sure that there were two packages that were supposed to explode? or could there be other packages still undetected out there? >> that's why i say, thus far, the system has worked. talking to tsa and the fbi is doing today. they have taken every possible
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action as far as all planes, all cargo planes coming from yemen, as far as inspections and cooperation with our allies. as far as working with dubai and obviously the brits. so far up to now, everything is worked according to the textbook. not over. it's a precursor to another one. whether or not it's a diversion nair move. but so far, all we know, it has worked. >> terrorism experts fran townsend is here. paul crookshank is here. i know you have a question for the congressman. >> congressman, look, it worked to the extent that we got some very clear intelligence about the two packages from an ally. but absence that, i don't think you can say the system work, absent the intelligence telling us to look for the packages, or else they would have gotten on. are you satisfied with the cargo screenings. >> i'm agreeing with you. the system worked because you and i both know we rely on
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layers of security. the first layer, the intelligence worked, that allowed us to move. if we had not gotten the intel, this plot would have worked. we need 100% screening on cargo planes. we're supposed to be working toward it. a lot more can be done, it should be done. we have a lot of resistance as you know from overseas countries, just on passenger flights this week. you know, british airlines were saying that we pushed too hard for security on passenger flights, never mind on cargo planes. no, we can use this as an opportunity to push for more and more extensive on cargo screening, getting close to 100% as possible. and this again drives home the importance of that. so, you're right. agree. i still say the system worked. it would not have worked had we not gotten the credible intelligence and we were able to act on it. but this did expose a weakness in our armor. >> paul's got a question as well. >> congressman, as you know, al qaeda and the arabian peninsula
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issue add letter urging al qaeda here to launch attacks. what do you hear about the plot we're hearing about. >> i'm concerned about al qaeda and the arabian peninsula. i think in many ways they're better poitzed to strike than al qaeda itself. it's a question of degree. but if you realize that abdulmatallab, the architect of the ft. hood massacre. both of those directed by al-alaki. there have been other cases in recent months where those arrested were inspired or directed by him. americans listen to him. american jihadists living in this country constantly listening and being motivated by him and that's apart from the actual al qaeda members. i'm talking about self-starters who take what they call inspiration. extremely dangerous person.
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and whatever can be done to get him has to be done. >> and he seems to be recruiting a network of americans who are sympathetic to al qaeda and the arabian peninsula. congressman, thank you for joining us. stay in close touch with you. take another quick break. when when he come back, going to dubai. our report earles and producers are on the scene. one of those suspicious packages with explosive material was found in this cargo plane in dubai. [ male announcer ] to equip the lexus es
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these are the device s cartridge toner had been manipulated with explosive material. the u.s. saying one of the devices was found in the united kingdom. another was found in a cargo plane in dubai. our cnn correspondent is in dubai. she's joining us now with what uae, united arab emirates officials are saying. what are they saying about this very worrisome development? >> well, wolf, authorities here
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are saying no shipment from yemen to the usa from dubai on emirates airlines. this has been issued like half an hour ago or 20 minutes ago by the official news agency. the uae official news agency. they're saying that the civil aviation authority confirm in a statement in the news agency that the emrate airline flight from dubai to the united states of america did not carry any shipment from yemen. earlier, like around 12:30 after midnight here, that was the first statement by any official authority here in the uae. they confirmed that there was or there was a suspicious shipment originating from yemen and heading for the united states was discovered at the cargo aircraft.
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and they said this suspicious shipment was sent to the laboratory to establish its type. but then, one hour later, the news came out that this shipment was not on the emirates airlines flight to the u.s. so this leaves us with many questions. is this shipment suspicious? the shipments -- does it stay here? and the uae. and was it sent to the laboratory? how long will it the news was out 9:00 p.m. local time, and now it is 2:00 a.m., and no authority, official authority is speaking to any news agency here. the only statement that has been issued was by the emerati news agency, and the news channel based here in dubai quoted a yemeni airways saying there is no flight from yemen and that this flight must have come from
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a destination on the way to the u.s. wolf? >> well, it seems to be a contradiction of what is going on and which wie will try to cl that. thank you so much. keep checking with your sources there. fran, you are here quickly, and it seems to be a different story coming out of the united arab emirates. >> well, i think it is a misunderstanding, but not inconsistent. the one that had the explosive materiel in it along with the one from yemen, and there is intelligence, but to be preventive and what we are hearing now is that there is maybe a belief that there was on the emirates flight, but the emirates officials are saying there was not a suspicious package on that flight. so we will have to watch that. >> we want to continue our investigation of what is going on and following the breaking news right after this.
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we are following the breaking news. two suspicious boxes apparently containing a toner cartridge that had been -- there you see it right there.
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it had been wired and the president of the united states saying it also contained explosive materiel, and we are working this story to see what is going on. they were addressed to two jewish houses of worship in chicago. fran townsend and paul krukshank is here, too. why toner cartridges? because they are so readily available anywhere in the united states, why use that? >> well, it is the choice of somebody to rip it open on the other end, and presumably in chicago and in the synagogues and get a nasty fright or a way to get it through. the officials doing the security check may not have noticed that, so it is an ingenious way to get it through, and al qaeda and others are trying to find new ways to launch attacks against the united states. several americans have joined their ranks and they are able to
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contribute. >> if these devices were made by the same bombmakers including the failed christmas day bombing over detroit? >> that is exactly right, wolf. it is easiest to figure out if these were to be made by the same person, you have to have the presumption that they were, and then to link them back to the prior bombings that peter bergen had mentioned. >> and we are talking about al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. are there other clerics higher up there than alwaki? >> well, just because as paul said, he understands american vulnerabilities and speaks colloquial languages, and he can appeal to the people in the united states, he is valuable
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resource, and another american-born al qaeda member is also there. >> and again, very active on the internet and including this online magazine that am cade and the arabian peninsula now has. for our viewers who missed it. here is president obama speaking to the american public just a little while ago. >> good afternoon, everybody. i want to briefly update the american people on a credible terrorist threat against our country. and the actions that we are taking with our friends and our partners to respond to it. last night and earlier today, our intelligence and law enforcement professionals working with our friends and allies identified two suspicious packages bound for the united states, specifically to places of jewish worship in chicago. those packages have been located in dubai and east midland's airport in the united kingdom. an initial examination of the
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packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive materiel. i was alerted to this threat last nightby my top counterterrorism director john brennan. i alerted the department of homeland security and all of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack. those measures led to additional screening of some planes in newark and philadelphia. the department of homeland security is also taking steps to enhance the safety of air travel including additional cargo screening. we will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. i have also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages and their connection to any additional terrorist plotting, although we are still pursuing all of the facts, we
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edo know that the packages originated in yemen. we also know that al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, a terrorist group based in yemen continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens and our friends and allies. john brennan, who you will be hearing from spoke with spoke sallah of yemen about this threat, and the president pledged the full cooperation of the yemeni government in this investigation. going forward, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the yemeni government to disrupt plotting by al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, and to destroy this al qaeda affiliate. we will also continue our efforts to strengthen a more stable, secure, and prosperous yemen, so that the terrorist groups do not have the time and space they need to plan attacks from within its borders. the events of the past 24 hours
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underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism. as usual, our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security professionals have served with extraordinary skill and resolve and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand. we are also coordinating closely and effectively with our friends and our allies who are essential to this fight. as we obtain more information, we will keep the public fully informed. but at this stage, the american people should know that the counterterrorism professionals are taking this threat very seriously and taking all necessary and prudent steps to ensure our security. and the american people should be confident that we will not waiver in our resolve to defeat al qaeda and its affiliates and to rout out violent extremists in all of its forms. thank you very much. thank you very much. >> this is cnn breaking news. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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two packages containing explosive materials 3,000 miles apart both bound for the united states have sparked a national security alert rippling around the world right now. we are following the breaking news and we want to welcome to viewer ins the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer reporting. this is what has so many people around the world so deeply concerned right now. a toner cartridge that investigators say had been tampered with along with wires to a circuit board. this is found in an airport north of london and a similar package was found at a fedex facility in dubai, and both linked to yemen and both addressed to area synagogues in chicago. it is a tip that authorities were able to intercept them before they reached the united states where officials suspect al qaeda and a group in the
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arabian peninsula. the president calls it a terrorist attempt, and was it a thwarted attack or something bigger? are there other packages out there still undetected? we are covering every angle of this breaking news this hour with cnn's global sources. our cnn correspondent dan rivers is now at the east midland's airport north of london where the one package with the toner cartridge that had been tampered with was found, and set the scene, dan, for us, and what are the authorities of the uk saying? >> well, we are getting a lot more information, wolf, from the u.s. side of this investigation than we are here in the uk. let me set the scene of where we are. this is the cargo area of east midland's airport. this package was found in a cargo distribution center at the end of this row. this area had been sealed off earlier today, and you can see now there is traffic and indeed
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cargo is moving along, and trucks moving along these roads and all back to normal now. but that package was found there after an intelligence tipoff that it had been posted in yemen by a man with known connections to terrorists. the police took it over to this area here which is on the edge of the runway here. investigated it. made it safe. it has now been flown by helicopter down to where the police forensic experts are continuing to investigate it to ascertain what it is. we know from the president that it has got explosive materiel contained within it, but we don't know much more than that, and how it would work in practice if it were some timing device or exactly the mechanics of how it works. so we hope to find out more about that. and of course, this is just one of two packages that we now know that was sent. the other sent from the same man in yemen, ended up in dubai and
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again, intercepted before it could get either here or onwards to chicago. this is really by fluke that it happened to be here in east midlands where it was intercepted. it was destinned for chicago, of course, but because of the quick work of the authorities in the u.s., alerting the police here, they managed to get hold of it and now they are looking into the mechanics of what this device is, and how it would work and if they can get any clues about who made it. >> what kind of aircraft was flown from yemen to where you are at this airport north of london that contained this box? >> i don't have the information about the specific aircraft here, but, you know, i imagine it is one of the ones that have been taking off and landing since we have been here. a jetliner coming in from yemen, possibly via the gulf. but i think that you know, one
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thing to take away from this, wolf, it does prove that if this was a viable device that could have exploded, that this device did get into the air into an airplane and land here and that poses major questions for the security screening procedures in yemen, and the airport in sana, and how did that get through? they can't scan and search physically every single parcel that is sent, but we now know that clearly, there is a massive focus on anything coming out of yemen. you know, i have been told by security sources just this week before this unfolded that they are very concerned about yemen, and they remain concerned about it. there have been flights that have been suspended between the uk and yemen for some time and that is one of the major focuses now of counterterrorism work here is on yemen as well as afghanistan and pakistan and somalia, but specifically now yemen is obviously, you know, right up there at the top of the list. >> but, have the authorities
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there said that this was a non-stop flight from sanaa, yemen and to the united kingdom and did not make any intermediary stops along the way. is that your understanding, dan? >> that is my understanding. but we are getting information that is contradicted in the u.s. here. we were initially told here that there was no explosive materiel in this device. it was effectively like an ied but with explosives in it, and that was contradicted by what the president said and now a bit of a little back peddling here, and then saying, well, there was explosive materiel in there, and we do not have information if it was direct flight or through dubai, but the package that was found in dubai was sent by fedex and this is u.p.s., so two different companies involved. >> two u.s. companies we should point out as well.
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dan, we will stay in close touch with you. let's bring in our homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve who is working the story and getting additional information as well. what is the latest? >> well, update from the transportation committee, there was a belief because there may be packages on board there from yemen and no intelligence that they were dangerous, but they wanted to check them out. the tsa says out of an abundance of caution they emptied the cargo from both of the airports and when they moved the planes from a remote location and they have completed the sweeps of the planes and the cargo and everything has been cleared at those locations. the big overarching question, a couple of them, be one that you mentioned, wolf, is what were the devices intended to do? here is what john brennan, the president's counterterror iism
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assistant had to say. >> they were in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack. the forensic analysis is under way. we are relying heavily and working closely with the partners in this regard, but clearly from the initial observations and the initial analysis that is done that the materiels that were found, and the device that was uncovered, was intended to do harm. >> and later in the briefing, mr. brennan indicate that it may have been a dry run and different scenarios that the government is looking at to try to determine what they were and what they were intended to do. in the meantime, as i mentioned this search is on for more than a dozen packages and i was told that the number may be around 13 that came out of yemen and they have found some of them, we are told, but they are nothing dangerous, but they are still on the hunt for others and we could
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see other searches going on in days to come. in addition, security has been stepped up a bit in some locations specifically, and they are doing more cargo screening and we are told by multiple sources they have halted shipments out of yemen to the united states while they get to the bottom of this. wolf. >> that is the decision that both u.p.s. and fedex made, no more cargo shipments out of yemen at least for now. all right. jeane, thank you. stand by. dan lothian, our pentagon correspondent, these packages were to go to the synagogues in the chicago area, and is that where the president is supposed to be over the weekend? >> yes, and a trip to philadelphia as well, and a last word we have gotten that i have heard from the top aide here in the white house is no changes in the president's schedule leading up to the midterm elections, but tonight, the president will be
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making a campaign stop in virginia, and so the latest word, again, is that no changes in the president's schedule because of this terror threat. going back a little bit, wolf to, take you how to president first learned of the plot last night at 10:30 is when john brennan, his counterterrorism adviser alerted the president and updated him not only at 10:30 but throughout the night, and he kept the president apprised of what was going on here with this investigation. john brennan took the lead here reaching out to all of the levels of counterterrorism agencies and reaching out to british officials and yemeni president as well. one of the questions i asked today at the briefing, wolf, today is that did they have any clue at all here within the administration that this kind of attack was in the works, using a cargo plane, using packages on a cargo plane, and john brennan
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pointing out that they have always been concerned about not only passenger aircraft, but cargo planes, and he did not specify whether they knew that a specific plot like this one was under way, wolf. >> dan, thank you very much and we will stay in close touch with you. let's bring in fran townsend and paul kruk dshank. fran, you had that job of john brennan and based on the phone calls and the conferences and the emergency meetings in the white house situation room, it sounds to me like this is a big deal for the u.s. government. >> oh, it is absolutely a big deal. very unusual by the way, wolf, and we haven't mentioned this to have the president become the briefer in chief. and the notion of putting the president out this early while it is still unfolding is pretty extraordinary for one thing that we always say that the initial facts are never clear, and they often change, and so it is is a little dangerous to have the president out there, but clearly, they do believe this
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was a real plot. and they pulled john brennan pulled the community together, and so, they are doing all of the things that you would expect. >> if you see that picture, you see the president's national security adviser there, tom donilon, but if you can see it, john brennan is to the left, and on the other side, you will sele yon panetta the cia director called into the white house situation room for this briefing. paul, the assumption is that al qaeda, the old al qaeda or the new al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, one of the goals is to go after the u.s. economy, and if that is the goal in this particular incident, you know ethat international cargo shipments are going to be more complicate and more difficult and more expensive now, because of the added security that presumably will come into play if that is the goal to try to attack the u.s. economy, they have scored a couple of points just by this. >> that is absolutely right. they are going after the points ofvulnerability, and
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also trying to get the media attention, which they have succeeded. going to synagogues plays well to the al qaeda's base, because they are deeply anti-semitic, wolf. >> well, if they are addressing specific synagogues in chicago, then presumably, there are americans there in al qaeda and the arabian organization if in fact they were responsible as the u.s. officials suspect that may have first-hand intoer mace about l -- information about synagogues in chicago. okay. stand by, and we will continue the breaking news coverage. brian todd is standing by. he has new information about cargo shipments coming in and out of the united states and he is over at dulles international airport outside of washington, d.c. brian, stand by, and our coverage will continue right after this. i went to a military officer hiring conference. it was kind of like speed dating. there were 12 companies that i was pre-matched with, but walmart turned out to be the best for me. sam walton was in the military,
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and with 12,000 atms and thousands of branches, we're with you in more ways and places than ever before. with you when you want the most from your bank. [ male announcer ] wells fargo. together we'll go far. >> cargo flights coming into the united states are about to have security beefed up as a result of what happened today. two devices discovered in the united kingdom and dubai and according to president obama, both had explosive material expected to go to synagogues in the chicago area. brian todd is standing by in washington, d.c. area. brian, i know you are looking into security for cargo flights as opposed to commercial passenger flights and talk about what you have learned over the many months and how this plays into what is going on today.
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well, wolf, this incident does shed some light on the screening incident. it is a system that is not air-tight, but in this case it could have prevented a disaster. >> reporter: wit wit was an intelligence tip and not a random attack that led to the suspicion in britain. that is according to one of the world's top security experts. they say that the manipulating of the toner cartridge and package had to set off alarms. some things about this particular shipment didn't seem right to you. >> yes. it doesn't make a lot of sense. yemen is not known to be an exploding country for the printers ink and certainly not to the united states. so there is something in the nature of the shipment that the supposed to draw attention. >> rafi ron former top israeli chief who advices the boston and
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san francisco airports says that the packages in cargo planes are not as tightly screened as those on passenger aircraft. he says that is because the terrorists don't typically want to bring down cargo planes b few the intend targets are elsewhere, those procedures could change temporarily. homeland security experts say that we will see more of the tracing and imagining technology, and rafi ron says that areas like this in the u.s. and elsewhere need more security and the perimeters around the cargo loading areas and the plane locations are much more out in the open. but a crucial screening system is in place, and it is called the known shipper program. officials at the tas and u.p.s. tell us it is basically an intelligence sharing network for cargo. government intelligent agencies around the world work with private companies and transporters like u.p.s. to track everything about a given
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package. >> it requires the information to be required for every shipment on the source of the shipment, and various entities that handle or had access to the shipment and so on. so, the known shipper program is a powerful program, and it is properly implemented. >> reporter: known ship program is voluntarily, but according to u.p.s. if a company is not part of that program, the packages will be screened more tightly. did the known shipper program help detect these packages? when i asked a u.p.s. official that, he said he could not give that information, but he said that u.p.s. is part of that program, and he said that this incident illustrates that what was in place worked. wolf. >> brian, even if this shipped package does not necessarily contain explosive material, there are other materials that can get through, and also, be deadly, isn't that right?
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>> reporter: that's right. rafi ron said there are materials to get through that can cause fires and even small fires and chemicals and agricultural products can be shipped through and those can be harder to detect and those are things that officials have to look out for. >> and brian todd over at dulles airport outside of washington. thank you very much. we are covering the breaking news for our viewers in the united states and around the world. when we come back, we are going to chicago where these two synagogues are located, and supposedly the destination for the explosive devices. down the hill? man: all right. we were actually thinking, maybe... we're going to hike up here, so we'll catch up with you guys. [ indistinct talking and laughter ] whew! i think it's worth it. working with a partner you can trust
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this is cnn, breaking news. all right. this is just coming in. a knowledgeable u.s. source now says that the tip, the tip on these suspicious packages that were found in the uk and dubai containing explosive materials, the initial tip to the u.s. came from the saudis. came from saudi arabia, and let's discuss this for a moment with fran townsend and paul cruikshank, and there is good excel je intelligence between the united states and saudi arabia, but the saudis are plugged in what is going on in yemeni. >> yes, the chief of the security is the prince muhammad benai who was the subject of the assassination attempt of the
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same bombmaker who made the underwear bomb. and is this the same bombmaker? saudi arabia has the most capable counterterrorism service in the region, and they are the best plugged in and most knowledgeable about al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, so it is not surprising to us that they would have access to the information and work closely with the americans to pass it. >> because earlier the americans would say a tip from to ale lie and i suspected from yemen or saudi arabia, but now a knowledgeable u.s. source is saying that the saudis gave the u.s. the tip. >> and two weeks ago the saudis gave the french a tip that an attack was imminent there, and the french were treating it very, very seriously, wolf, so maybe the same intelligence stream that is coming in both to france and now the united states. >> because the tip to the french was not from the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, but the old al qaeda was supposedly going after targets in france.
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>> it was both al qaeda and the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula but it is the intelligence related to that. >> and bin laden put out an aud audiotape saying they wanted to go after france because they were banning the burqa. >> that is right. from the al qaeda, and the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and now from france to the u.s. >> and how related are these various relabships? >> well, sometimes there are ties that are weaker and the north african affiliate is more weakly tied to al qaeda central, but yemen and pakistan are the stronger and stronger ties, wolf. >> stand by, guys. we are only beginning to uncover what is going on. more information is coming into "the situation room." we will go to chicago. when we come back, that is where the two synagogues are located where the two targets that you are seeing right there are targets of the improvised explosive devices.
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chicago synagogues. one included a tamper ed toner cartridge, and another with a computer board. president obama called it a credible threat against the united states. and officials believe that al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is responsible, and there is growing concern that there may be other packages still out there, but this is maybe a dry run for something more distu disturbing. we are all over this story, and we have source around the world to bring you information as soon as we vet it and we can confirm it to the viewers. let's go to chicago right now. cnn's brooke baldwin is standing by outside of one of the largest synagogues in chicago. brooke, we don't know if the synagogue where you are standing right now is one of the synagogues targeted. i take it that we don't yet know the names of the two synagogues targeted by the explosive
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devices? >> reporter: that is right, we don't know yet, wolf. there are two chicago synagogues could be in the city where i am here along north lake shore drive or out in the suburbs, but as you mentioned this is temple shalom, and the biggest synagogue in all of the city of chicago in clearly in speaking to the folks behind closed doors they are saying that absolutely they are on high alert for some of the packages that could potentially be suspicious, but they are not being alarmists. i want the show you a piece of video of the talk of the cargo planes a u.p.s., and in sitting out here in the last half hour, we saw a u.p.s. truck pull up and no security here, and the driver hopped out and went into synagogue and appeared business as usual. i spoke with a father walking out of the synagogue at that moment and he had two little boys he was walking with, and i said, are you at all frightened that perhaps your synagogue or perhaps a synagogue in chicago was targeted, and he said absolutely he is concerned.
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i followed up, would that change your day-to-day life? would it change your perhaps course of worship as the services begin tonight at 6:15 local time, and he said he hopes not. we are here, wolf, on the chicago angle and try to talk to some of the people as they continue in for some of the services at 6:15 to see how this may change for them and their level perhaps of fear. we will wait to find out, but again, 6:15 services going on as planned. >> all right. brooke, stand by. we will get back to you. all right. multiple news organizations are now reporting that the explosives in the two devices found in the united kingdom and dubai and the explosives were ptn, which is a specific explosive with a history. let's bring in fran townsend and paul cruikshank. that is the same explosive used in the detroit christmas day
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bombing that was thwarted. >> yes, and not only that, but it is the same bombmakers who used to assassinate the head of the saudi intelligence service and we learned that it is the saudis who gave us the information about the packages. and richard reid, the shoe bomber, al qaeda-related used ptn in his shoe when he attempted to blow up that airliner. this is a al qaeda signature. >> hold on, because jane harmon is joining ug right now, a member of the homeland national security committee on intelligence, and congresswoman, you have been briefed on this. can you confirm that the explosives were ptn and have they told you that? >> well, i just learned that, but i believe it is a reasonable guess that the brothers who made the abdulelah bomb, and they
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were the makers of these two ieds and they are at large in the hinterlands of yemen. i have long said that yemen is ground zero ein terms of intended attacks or inspired attacks against the united states. the yemeni government and the yemeni intelligence service are cooperating with us, and that's the good news, but the bad news is that it is a very poor country. we could call it a failing state. there are 150,000 little villages outside of the capital of sana, and there is reason to believe with a couple of civil wars going on and so forth, it is easy to hide out and they are seeming to lure bad guys there and getting bad stuff out. this is a big success story for our government. we had credible and reliable intelligence and we acted on it promptly, and we found two ieds in two different parcel cargo holds, and we intercepted them well before they reached the
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united states, and their intend targets, two synagogues in chicago. >> so, we now know what the white powder that was found in the uk and dubai was, which is the petn which does have a white powder. is it your understanding that if the two boxes had reached the two different synagogues in chicago, they would have exploded upon opening these devices, these boxes or timing mechanisms to detonate them? do you have a working understanding yet, congresswoman, how they would have gone off? >> well, i think that they were different. one of them could have been detonated by a cell phone, and the other by a timer. i don't think that either of those detonators has been found yet or it had not when i last intercepted this information. w i was briefed by the head of our tsa which is part of the homeland security department. he is a 27-year fbi veteran and
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he is all over this material and very well qualified for the role he has. i am very impressed by the actions that our government has taken to date. >> yes, and we are getting this information in as well, congresswoman, that the size and the shape of this planned printed circuit board on this device is similar to a handset cell phone-type device suggesting that a cell phone could have detonated these two ieds, these improvised devices causing god knows what kind of damage at these synagogues. why go after the synagogues in chicago? have authorities suggested what the motive was there? >> well, i think that we are just starting to ing ting the , but in my own congressional district, in torrance, california, a local domestic terror plot was uncover and one of the targets was jewish
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synagogue, and jewish sites are targets, and you know the rhetoric of the folks. we have to learn more of who they are, but no question that the two devices that were found in the cargo holds of two different planes in two different locations were genuinely ieds to be remotely detonated and if they were gone off someplace, they could have cau caused a lot of damage. >> and officials told you flatly that the explosives were petn? is that right? >> no, i have heard that on your broadcast. i learned other aspects of what they were and i have revealed as i just said that one of them probably would have been detonate bade cell phone and e detonateed by a cell phone and the other by a timer, and those devices have not been found and am not surprised that it is petn, because it is a signature as fran townsend said of folks who are reasonably likely to turn out to be the people who made these two bombs.
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>> looks like petn is the explosive of choice for the al qaeda organizations whether al qaeda in the arabian peninsula or the old bin laden al qaeda and some of the splinter groups. congresswoman, thank you very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. let me bring in paul cruikshank in for a moment, because you know about the petn, and how much damage could a device like this in a toner cartridge and say a cell phone detonated and arrived in the synagogue at chicago, and how much damage could it have done? >> quite a lot. with nic robertson we worked to get a british scientist to demonstrate this for cnn and we videoed a small amount of the white powdery substance and there was a very large explosion. it is very, very difficult to detect and it is the signature of al qaeda more and more, wolf. >> obviously, a worrisome development now that we know that petn was the explosive found in the two devices in
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dubai and the united kingdom. we are going to the united kingdom when we come back and our breaking news coverage will continue. [ man ] ♪ trouble ♪ trouble, trouble trouble, trouble ♪ ♪ trouble been doggin' my soul ♪ since the day i was born ♪ worry ♪ oh, worry, worry worry, worry ♪ [ announcer ] when it comes to things you care about, leave nothing to chance. travelers. take the scary out of life.
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this is cnn breaking news. all right. we reported a little while ago that saudi arabia provided the united states with the initial information that led to the thwarting of this terrorist attack that was in the works. we are now getting the statement from the white house, a statement from john brennan who
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is president obama's special adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism. the united states is grateful to the kingdom of saudi arabia for the assistance to developing information that helped underscore the imminence of the threat emanating from the yemen. hilt helps us to increase our vigilance and identify the suspicious activities in dubai and east midlands airport. now, over to richard quest from london who is getting additional information. what are you learning, , first midlands airport we found out
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that material had come from fedex warehouse where they found the uae explosive device, which i am led to believe is -- the exact words of my source, it is an explosive device with sophisticated wiring that is well hidden. it is believed to be larger than maybe the east midlands want and actually a print ser is what th are suggesting is the dubai device. on the question of the emirates plane, wolf, it is my understanding tonight that actually there's no package on board the emirates plane from xwlen, that t yemen, but it was an abundance of caution that led the jets to escort to plane from yemen. this came to me tonight and this is going to be of great
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assurance to anybody traveling on the airline that all onboard cargo destined for the united states is pre-screened in dubai. so all cargo is prescreened in dubai in accordance with the ts, and homeland security reports, so that would bear out there is no yemeni package on board of the aircraft. that is what i am hearing from the united emirates, and the uae. >> well, that is important information, and cnn has incredible resource around the world working the story. we will take another break, and muhammad jum jun was just in yemen. [ male announcer ] this rock has never stood still.
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go to two synagogues in chicago. our correspondent was just in yemen and i know that mohammed, you have been in touch with authorities in yemen today, and what are they saying in terms of their willingness or ability to support to cooperate with the united states in this sophisticated terror investigation? >> well, wolf, what yemeni officials are reiterating again and again over the last few days and weeks and even today is that one of the most significant signs that they are trying to go after al qaeda in a big way is that they are asking for help. they have been asking the u.s. for help. they have been asking the uk for help and today they came out quickly after the news broke and said they are launching an official investigation and counting on the cooperation of the u.s. and the uk to get this under control. this is a dramatic change of tone they were saying in the last year. when it was clear that the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula was a bigger problem than the
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yemeni government thought it was, the yemeni government was saying, look, we have it under control and don't worry about it, but in the past several months they say no, we need help and military aid and training from the foreign government. i was in yemen last month and spoke to officials who expressed repeatedly about how concerned they are about al qaeda. officials say there are only 400 active members there, but the fact of the mat ser that ttof o have learned from experienced al qaeda, and they are playing by a new playbook now, and going after the government directly, and they have been bold to announce they are going after the government and the president and stepping up the attacks and reinvigorated and a new insurgency there and the yemeni is telling the international community, step in and help us and you cannot afford to have us become a failed state. thank you so much for reporting for us and no doubt that most of the 400 al qaeda in the arabian peninsula terrorists are yemeni or others, but there are some who are americans, including the
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american-born cleric al allawi who we have been watching all along. we have nic robertson standing by with new information on the explosive in the devices, the petn and the damage potentially it could have done to the two synagogues in chicago. one word turns innovative design into revolutionary performance. one word makes the difference between defining the mission and accomplishing the mission.
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we've got more breaking news on this investigation into these two devices found in the uk and dubai, explosive devices, fran townsend is here. we know the white house has formally thanked saudi arabia for the information of the thwarting of this plot. >> john brennan said that the saudis had provided information that underscored the immanence of the threat. i've now talked to a source who confirmed to me the information the saudis provided to u.s. officials were the actual tracking numbers on the packages, which is what allowed them to find the package in dubai and in the united kingdom so quickly. >> we know u.p.s. and fedex are excellent with their tracking numbers, they know where these packages are at any time. stand by. nic robertson is joining us from london right now.
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you've done a lot of investigation and a lost woft l on petn this explosive material that we now believe was used in these two devices found in dubai and in britain. tell us about the potential damage the petn could have done to the synagogues in chicago, nic. >> reporter: we ran tests earlier this year with a scientist here in britain who has done a lot of work with counterterrorism officials with this explosive. if you get an amount of explosive that would fit the top of this pen, it's enough to blow a hole in a metal plate, that would be the fuselage of an aircraft, for example. that gives you an idea of how powerful it is, wolf. in this situation, we don't know exactly what the intended target was, but an amount that would fit into a toner or something larger, a printer we've heard, that would be very devastating. it is a very, very powerful explosive once detonated, wolf. >> and it could be detonated by -- with a cell phone.
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it seems like that's -- that could have possibly been used to detonate these two devices. >> reporter: that does appear to be the case, here, wolf. the piece of information that we're now putting together, that does appear to tie up. i think what's interesting here is we heard during john brennan's press conference there talk about this working on this really hard for the last 24 hours. when we hear fran townsend talk about how the saudis helped with the tracking numbers of these devices, they were in motion, it's so clear now that the very short period of time that intelligence, counterterrorism operatives had to work in to get to those -- to get to that device that was found at east midlands airplanort, a matter o hours. this unfolded so very, very quickly, wolf. >> thanks very much, nic. we'll take another quick break. more of the coverage right after this. [ male announcer ] the next big thing from lexus is not a car.
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we're continuing our coverage of the terror plot that was thwarted today in the uk and in dubai. fran townsend is here, if the saudis had not provided this initial information, the tracking numbers of these two boxes containing what's reportedly to be this petn, this powerful explosive device, and it would have continued, what would have happened? >> well, it would have arrived
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at these jewish houses of worship and it would have exploded and either killed some, maimed others. i mean, the thing we take away from this, it's fascinating to me, wolf, the saudis came to us after the assassination attempt on prince muhammad bin nayef. >> head of their intelligence service, really. >> right. and explained the bomb that was used. that's the same bomb that later was used by the christmas day attempted bomber, abdulmutallab. he's now the saudi service comes to us with the tracking numbers. it underscores the importance of that relationship and how strong it is to this day in terms of counterterrorism cooperation. >> there's a self-interest that the saudis have, because as we just noted, they've been the target of these organizations as well. >> they're fighting the same fight, this organization al qaeda in yemen was really in saudi arabia, the saudis are engaged in the same fight as the united states, wolf. >> so why go after these two synagogues in chicago? what would be the point?
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what would be the message they would be trying to send? >> well, this is -- goes -- it's very popular for al qaeda's base. they're deeply anti-semitic. there will likely rally around the flag, to target jews in america from that perspective is a pig propaganda success, wolf. >> how worried should the american jewish community be right now, fran? you worked as the homeland security adviser to president bush, and i know there have been threats in the past, but is this a source of major concern right now? >> you know, unfortunately, it's a continuing source of concern. we work closely with the american jewish community and community leaders. they have strict protocols on how they screen mail, secure their facilities and for good reason. they're the subject of this threat, and it will continue. as paul says, of the deeply anti-semitic ideology. >> is there any indication that there are other suspicious packages you think out there right now?
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or is this over with, this specific plot? >> the concern is always that there's more out there, that there will be more attempts. this is a struggle that continues every day, wolf. >> and it's not going aweigh.

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